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Sun Belt Shootout set for Troy

On Friday, two of the nations best tennis teams will be looking to continue their success at the Troy Sun Belt Shootout.

Both Troy and Denver come to the tournament held at Troy University’s Lunsford Tennis Complex ranked but before the two can face off, they will have to take care of the rest of the Sun Belt field.

“Teams in the Sun Belt don’t have to play a regular season schedule with one another but they all get together in one spot during the season and play,” head coach Eric Hayes said.

“This season, they are all meeting here which is exciting for our team and the community.

“Plus this tournament will help seed the conference tournament, which takes place in a few weeks,” he said.

Troy is currently on a nine-game winning streaking heading into the tournament and is ranked No. 65 in the nation.

The Trojans are currently 14-3, with its last lost coming back in February against Winthrop.

The team will be the No. 2 seed in the tournament, which Hayes describes as being “wide open.”

Coming in, Troy has faced four of the seven teams at the tournament – and have a 4-0 record against tem.

The No. 1 seed will go to Denver, who is currently ranked No. 29 in the nation.

“We are ranked for the first time in eight years,” Hayes said. “And we are trying to get into the Top 50.”

“There are some high expectations coming into (the tournament) but like I have told the kids all week, we are going to take it one match at a time,” the coach added.

One aspect that Hayes believes will help Troy is its home field advantage.

“(Playing at home) will help big time,” he said.

“We have been getting some really good crowds lately.”

Even with expectations high, Hayes said that if Troy is unable to come away with the championship, he at least wants his team to have a winning record in the tournament competition.

“This is going to be a good test for us.

“This is going to tell us a lot about the rest of the teams and ours as well,” he said.

The opening matches will take place at 11 a.m. on Friday at the Lunsford Tennis Complex as the No. 4 seed South Alabama will play the No. 5 seed Louisiana-Lafayette while The no. 3 seed will take on the No. 6 seed Middle Tennessee.

Troy will get under way at 2 p.m. against the No. 7 seed New Orleans, and at the same time Denver will take on No. 8 seeded Western Kentucky.

The championship game will take place on Saturday at 4 p.m.